Pando Aspen Clone

Jacqueline Balderrama

    Never a notice of exiting, just another entering sign in the rearview mirror. Where it begins and ends: a conference of roots. Visitor guides admit how difficult to sense the entirety when the organism merges with smaller aspen the way a pattern meets itself on strips of wallpaper. Everywhere I stand: its center. Tree in the foreground. Tree in the background. In periphery—on my right and left side dusting into juniper. The horse in Magritte’s forest may have such percipience, being in three harmonious pieces bent in the direction of travel. It moves forward and sideways the way the trees braid through it. Tree clustered around others. Slow tree in the years of drought. Tree on the mind of every tiring bird. Close to the eye, beetles colored the same white and black as the bark dodge my view. The trunk ascends, and I forget to look up. I put my ear against one tree to hear the promised popping of thirst but meet vibrations of the nearby road, the static radio, vast and trembling. I believe the paradox of touching one tree and reaching a thousand—all their seedlings circling the voices of those who speak and those who say nothing. I hear them in my father’s recitation of St. Patrick’s Breastplate on those long-ago drives to school. He’s saying, and may we follow the way—of trees beautiful in the fall, for clones synchronize their yellows. They are in the practice of changing even as regeneration slows, as deer fences warn impending mortality.

about the author